PETITION: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given in your career?
GM: Serious: “Observe successful people you admire and adopt the traits you can authentically inhabit.” Somewhat tongue in cheek: “Don’t **** it up.”
PETITION: What is the best book you’ve read that’s helped guide you in your career?
GM: Lawyering skills: The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law by Mark Herrmann (especially recommended for younger lawyers). Substantive knowledge: Collier (I know, I’m a nerd).
PETITION: What is one notable trend you expect to see in the second half of ’18 or first quarter of '19 that not enough people are talking about?
GM: Increasing European impact on U.S. restructuring. Many public companies took advantage of tax advantaged structures since the last cycle (lots of double Irish with a Dutch sandwich etc.). In addition, international debt investing structures mean that there is a European bond overhang on more U.S.-based/U.S.-focused companies than the last time we ramped up. American professionals should be aware of potential solutions and leverage points available, particularly the flexibility of schemes of arrangement provided by our friends in the United Kingdom, and the framework for cooperation across European jurisdictions in the European regulation on insolvency proceedings.
PETITION: What is one longer-term disruptive trend that scares you?
GM: Kids aren’t watching traditional sports anymore. What am I going to do in my meager free time when those business models fail? Personal fears about professional hockey collapsing aside, higher education is something like one-sixth of the U.S. economy, mostly funded or guaranteed by you and me (taxpayers). What is going to happen if (when?) there is a mass default on student loans? We want distress, not destruction.
PETITION: On the flip side -- as a restructuring professional -- that excites you?
GM: Short-term memories in the financial sector (e.g. cov-lite loans account for the largest share of the leveraged loan market ever).
PETITION: What is the biggest threat to the bankruptcy system?
GM: Inflexibility. Whether by statutory fiat, or judicial decision, rigid rules work against the success of our system. See my answer above, some of the rest of the world is catching up; this is a competition and we should work purposefully to ensure the United States remains the restructuring destination of choice.